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When it was time for Ximena to go to her prenatal appointment, she decided to stay home.

“I have to miss my appointments,” she told us, “because it scares me to leave, because of the fear that one day they’re going to arrest me. And what would happen to my kids?”

Ximena, whose name we agreed to change to protect her confidentiality, was pregnant at the time and is originally from Guatemala. She left there a decade ago because of constant violence in her town. Since then, she has lived in the U.S. without legal permission.

Immigrants living in the U.S. without legal permission are not eligible for most public benefits. However, if their children are born in the U.S., the children are eligible for benefits like Medicaid and food assistance programs that could help them stay healthy.

We are part of a team of researchers and health practitioners studying the impact of rapidly changing immigration policies on immigrant families in Detroit and nearby Washtenaw County, Michigan. Ximena is one of a dozen immigrants we have interviewed since March 2018 who are members of families in which at least one person is living in the U.S. without legal permission or is otherwise not a citizen.

…continue reading ‘Families Are Choosing Between their Health and Staying Together’

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